The Marks of the Church Point to the Gospel
XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.
The description of the Church in Article XIX points us back to the gospel in three ways.
First, . . . the existence of a visible body of professing Christians points back to the activity of God in Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension as witnessed to in Acts 2, John 6 and Ephesians 1 and 2. Why is there a body of professing Christians? Because in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy Jesus Christ came and died and rose and ascended to bring salvation to people from all over the world and in so doing to bring about the completion of God’s purposes for the whole of creation.
Secondly, the reason why the preaching of Scripture is one of the marks of the Church is because the message the Church is called to proclaim is the gospel message contained in the Old and New Testaments. What the Church is called to declare is the fulfilment in the New Testament of the promises made by God in the Old Testament and what the New Testament has to say about how we should live in response to that fulfilment. It is only as it does this that the Church discharges the command of Christ to his people to bear witness to him and make disciples of all nations (Luke 24:48-49, Acts 1:8, Matthew 28: 18-20).
Thirdly, the reason why the ministration of the sacraments is a mark of the Church is because when Christ founded the Church to be the instrument through which the promise made to Abraham of the blessing of all nations (Genesis 12:3) should be fulfilled he appointed the two sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion to replace the existing marks (i.e., circumcision and Passover-J.F.) of belonging to the people of God instituted under the old covenant (i.e., Mosaic covenant-J.F.). . .
Furthermore, the existence of the sacraments points us to the gospel because the existence of Baptism points us to the truths that Christ died and rose for our salvation (Romans 6:1-11) and that he ascended to the right hand of God and baptises his people in the Spirit in accordance with prophecies of Isaiah and Joel (see Isaiah 44:3, Joel 2:28, Mark 1:8, Acts 2:14-36) and. . . the existence of Holy Communion points us to the truth that through his death on the cross Jesus instituted the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 25:27-28, Mark 14:23-24, Luke 22:20, and 1 Corinthians 11:25).
~Martin Davie, The Gospel and the Anglican Tradition, 274-276
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